Quieting the Shout of Should

Day 5 of 7 • This day’s reading


“In every way I’ve shown you that it is necessary to help the weak by laboring like this and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, because he said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

—Acts 20:35

Read Acts 20:32-35

This past summer, a group of ragtag kids from various small towns in our area came together for Vacation Bible School and, over the course of four days, raised more than $400 to help other students purchase school supplies. It is amazing what kids and their parents will do when a church pits girls against boys in a friendly competition to see who can bring in more money each night. It’s even more incredible to watch how deep the parents’ pockets suddenly are when they want their child to be on the winning team—because we all know those six-year-olds aren’t out working hard for that $20 bill they just donated.

Somehow, regardless of the competition, I think these kids got it. My own daughter was in the mix—and I know that her mind is generally more “me” focused than service-oriented. But her heart also hurts when she knows there are kids who don’t have food when they go home or families who love them. She has raised money at lemonade stands to help provide food for children in other countries, but she is also the one who pouted when she didn’t get the overpriced slushy at the amusement park.

My heart can be like that too. I have dreams of one day being able to offer scholarships and mentoring for other writers, but I also want that cute new jacket. Today’s scripture is one we can cling to when our good intentions for service are being undermined by our selfishness.

In the previous verses, Paul begins to wrap up his speech to the early church by reminding them that he has worked hard to earn the financial provisions he and his team need. He encourages the church to continue to work hard and to give generously to those who aren’t able to support themselves.

“It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35) is a great quote to hang in your home but a hard one to live out on a daily basis. Giving feels like a sacrifice. Receiving feels like a gift. Giving focuses on the needs of someone else. Receiving focuses the attention on what we want.

There will be seasons for both. But when I compare the joy on my daughter’s face after she’s helped other students to the look of fleeting gratitude when she picks out her own school supplies at the store, I see the difference. We can make a difference.

Quiet Quest: When was the last time you gave generously out of your available resources—time, money, expertise—without expecting anything in return? How can a life of intentional generosity quiet the shouts of should that fill our homes with things and keep us distracted from Jesus?